This issue’s cover stars are our very own Amanda and her partner Rhys! Taken by James Vincent during their bikepacking overnighter in the Lake District, we like how it…
The 2021 Troy Lee A3 helmet is packed full of style, safety and features that make this the most comfortable TLD open face lid to date.
The Troy Lee A2 helmet has proven to be really popular over the past few years. It’s a good looking, well ventilated and comfortable helmet, so what could Troy Lee do to make something even better? For 2021, Troy Lee has released the new Troy Lee A3 helmet, a flagship half-shell helmet with even more coverage, more comfort and clever new safety features.
The A3 is unmistakably a Troy Lee design and in true form, there are colour and graphic options ranging from stealthy and subtle to bright and loud. There are a few signature details such as the small aero ‘beak’ on the rear, but many of the design elements and features of the A3 are unique to this new helmet.
For starters, the A3 features a MIPS rotational impact safety system. It’s not uncommon to see MIPS on trail and enduro lids, and while it does add to the overall cost it is a feature that I’m happy to pay a premium for. The system in the A3 is a new B system that uses an injection moulded plastic cradle for a more uniform finish. This allows the cradle to be mounted directly to the foam and doesn’t require felt slider pads thus keeping the whole system as compact as can be. Another benefit of the new MIPS system is that it offers a 360-degree fit that can be adjusted via a dial on the rear of the helmet. Even this portion of the design is new with a smaller overall footprint and even closer micro-adjustments to really allow fine-tuning of the A3 for that perfect fit. Troy Lee even managed to squeeze in cantilevered arms to add a little flex and comfort to the new retention system and the design of the new MIPS means it compatible with glasses.
Those of you familiar with the A2 will notice that the A3 has a lot more padding. In fact, it has more padding than any of Troy Lee’s previous half shell designs. For the A3, the padding is split into 2 parts made of V2 X Static material. X Static material was developed using silver threads woven throughout to prevent bacterial growth from sweat to keep odours from developing. I’ve not had an issue with this so either it works or I don’t have a smelly head, I like to believe the latter.
Troy Lee, realising that not everyone lives in cold UK climates, has included perforated lines on the comfort liner so that riders can trim and customise the liner to suit. So if you find that the stock liner is a little too cosy, there’s that option to customise to get it feeling spot on.
Another feature riders in more humid environments will appreciate is the TLD Sweatglide system. This is a simple EVA foam channel designed to keep sweat out of your eyes by directing the flow along the channel and away to the sides of your forehead. Each helmet comes with a pre-installed channel, and an extra so you can choose to run it or not.
One of the main advantages of the A3 is the increased amount of coverage available, with the new helmet sitting low on the rear of the head for extra peace of mind. Troy Lee says that the new design means the A3 offers the deepest coverage of any of their half-shell helmets perfect for enduro and all-mountain riders who demand protection and style.
This extra coverage hasn’t come at the expense of cooling though with the outer shell featuring 16 vents and air channels to keep cool air flowing as you ride. Due to the A3 landing with us in Winter I can’t comment on how the venting works, but I didn’t really have issues with the A2 and expect the A3 to be just as good if not better on those hot days, thanks to the larger front vents that aren’t blocked by the peak.
The outer shell is a three piece construction with both EPS and EPP foam energy management systems. Troy Lee states that EPS is designed to absorb high-speed energy while the EPP foam handles low speed. These two foams can actually be seen through the vents. The EPP is the grey foam closest to your head while the black is the EPS. These foams are co-moulded together using a patented system that only Troy Lee uses in the cycling market. The low-speed foam is designed for those times you might hit a branch as you ride past, while the high-speed foam is for larger impacts. Through the development of the A3, Troy Lee has identified where to place each foam and how thick it should be and if you take a close look you can see the variations in density across the shell.
If you ride in goggles you’ll be happy to hear that the A3 has been designed with room to store them out of the way, a feature many riders have been asking for. The peak can now be adjusted much higher than before to give goggle space. As I don’t ride with goggles I’ve not tested this first hand, but I do appreciate the new 3 position visor system. It features 3 indentations in the shell where the peak snaps into position with the help of a magnet.
The new system is super easy and convenient to use, and Troy Lee is obviously confident that riders will use it enough to warrant a protective strip behind the peak so that frequent adjustment won’t rub the exterior design. The peak is held into position via 2 breakaway bolts, designed to shear off on impact meaning that you should only need to replace bolts rather than the whole peak if it breaks away.
No matter how many features a helmet has they won’t be of any use if you can’t keep it on your head, and for this, the A3 uses a Fidlock magnetic buckle, perhaps the easiest helmet buckle ever to be designed even on those winter days with thick gloves. The buckle is attached to soft, narrow straps and separated by flexible strap separators. These are items that you just don’t think about on the trail because they do their job without rubbing or irritating.
In the UK the Troy Lee A3 helmet will retail at £200 which includes the helmet, 2 x Sweatglide channels, 2 x X-Static comfort liners and a helmet bag to keep your lid safe when not in use.
As already mentioned there are a bunch of colour options to choose from including a completely black helmet, a silver model with electric colour highlights a race-inspired white helmet with red trim and the camo model which I have been riding in most of all sporting a grey camo design with red highlights.
We’ll be riding in the new A3 over the next few weeks to check in for a future review coming soon.
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